Sunday, February 24, 2013

Minority Trek Adventures in Ban Lung and Beyond

Hi! My Name is Do Yok and I am a Tampuan Highlander based in Ban Lung, the provincial capital of Ratanakiri, Cambodia. I provide jungle treks and village homestays with minority people all over Ratanakiri and beyond. I speak all of the minority languages, including, of course, Tampuan, as well as Brao, Kreung, Kravet, Lao, and many others –including English! 

If you are interested in trekking the forests of this mysterious province and learning about wildlife and medicinal plants, I can teach you quite a lot about the area. Furthermore, if you want to learn about local highlander culture, including its myths, folklore, history, spirit places, and animistic heritage, I will lead you on a tour that you will not forget. Allow me to relate a few tales below that I have told to my clients and friends in the past:

“In order for a person to die, three things must agree on it: the birds, the trees, and the Earth. When a person dies, a coffin has to be made, which means that a tree has to be cut down to build the box. A hole must be dug in the ground for the coffin, which means the Earth is affected by your death. Birds have powerful eyesight and they can see everything you do –even from high up in the sky- and they know all about your life. When the trees, the Earth and the birds decide that it is time for you to die, then it is time for you to go. If someday you are sick in bed and a little bird comes to you window and goes cheep-cheep –you are finished. Nobody and nothing can save you.”

My Tampuan people believe this is true. Let me tell you another one:

“Spirits live in some trees and in minority culture it is forbidden to cut them. There was a great big tree near the sacred Yeak Loam Lake just outside of Ban Lung, and the Tampuan people knew that this was a spirit-tree. But today some people just have money in their eye; they can see nothing else, not even spirits. One day some minority people cut down the big spirit tree to sell to Vietnam, and then several people in the minority village by the lake died. Several people died and many more got sick. The spirits were very angry about this, and the entire village had to be moved. To this day, minority languages cannot be spoken at the lake, because the villagers fear that the spirits will hear their language and will punish them!”

Learning the lore of Ratanakiri will add tremendously to your travel experience, and I can take you to any of the villages you like, and I can also take you on jungle treks ranging anywhere from one to five days. Some of the wildlife on such treks include: Giant Asian squirrels, barking deer, wild boar, hawks and eagles, as well as a variety of snakes and reptiles and other birds. In addition to jungle treks and homestays we can also do elephant rides, jade and gem mine tours, boat trips to Tampuan traditional cemetery, folk tale trips around the sacred Yeak Lom Lake, and much more.

One place that I cannot take you to inside of Virachey National Park. However, Virachey is, unfortunately, currently facing environmental degradation and, sadly, several treks within the national park had to be cancelled due to the development of rubber plantations along the Vietnamese border. Furthermore, loggers and hunters are prevalent in the park today, yet another sad fact that diminishes a true wilderness experience. 

However, there is still enchanting forest outside of the national park where I can guide you, and all of the minority villages are located outside of the park anyway. In addition, you do not have to pay the national park entry fee when you trek with me. 

You can contact me at: +855977839104 and at

I look forward to showing you around the enchanting Ratanakiri Province of Northeast Cambodia, and beyond.